History of ICRAF and the World Agroforestry Centre

Mid-70s - "Agroforestry" is born

The International Council for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) was created in response to a visionary study in the mid-1970s led by forester John Bene of Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The study coined the term "agroforestry" and called for global recognition of the key role trees play on farms. This led to the establishment of ICRAF in 1978 to promote agroforestry research in developing countries.

The 80s and 90s - Strategic research on agroforestry at a global scale

During the 1980s ICRAF operated as an information council focused on studying and documenting agroforestry in Africa. In 1991 it joined CGIAR (formerly the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research) to conduct strategic research on agroforestry throughout the tropics, changing its name from Council to Centre. Starting in 1991, the Centre explicitly linked its work to the goals of CGIAR—reducing poverty, increasing food security and improving the environment—through two means: overcoming land depletion in smallholder farms of subhumid and semi-arid Africa, and searching for alternatives to slash-and-burn agriculture at the margins of the humid tropical forests. In implementing this strategy, the Centre expanded into South America and Southeast Asia while strengthening its activities in Africa.

Late 90s - Building a strong science culture

ICRAF continued the process of institutional transformation by developing a science culture, building excellent research facilities and doubling its financial and human resources by 1996. The Centre formally adopted an integrated natural resource management framework for all of its work, and institutionalized its commitment to impact by creating a Development Group dedicated to moving research results onto farmers' fields.

2002 - ICRAF becomes the World Agroforestry Centre

In 2002, the Centre acquired the brand name the "World Agroforestry Centre". However, the "International Centre for Research in Agroforestry" remains our legal name. "World Agroforestry Centre" reflects the fact that we are now recognized as the global leader in agroforestry research and development. Realistically, however, the Centre cannot possibly provide expertise in all conceivable dimensions of agroforestry—nor do we wish to do so. There are advantages to specialization, which is why ICRAF engages in strategic alliances with a range of other institutions. Some of these partners are centres of scientific excellence in specific topics of relevance to agroforestry; others specialize in the effective delivery of research results to farmers.